LIVESTREAM LINK – 2023 U.S. Naval Academy Graduation/Commissioning Ceremony

It seems like just yesterday we were dropping off our boys at their respective academies for a 47-month adventure that is culminating this weekend with graduation ceremonies at the Naval Academy (Friday, 5/26 at 9:00 a.m. EASTERN TIME) and at West Point (Saturday, 5/27 at 9:00 a.m. EASTERN TIME).

Though it wasn’t an option for us to invite you all to be here in person, there is the opportunity to livestream these events, in the comfort of your own home.

If you’d like to livestream the Naval Academy Graduation and Commissioning Ceremony, you can do so via the following YouTube link:

Unfortunately, the West Point livestream link has still not been provided so I will endeavor to send a follow-up email with that link tomorrow night. However, after the Navy ceremony, we will need to make our way to West Point on Friday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend. The trip is normally about 5 hours. I’m anticipating a much longer drive because of the holiday weekend. I will do my best to get the link to you as soon as I have it.

Above is a screenshot of the Graduation Timeline

Jacob will be in the group of Distinguished Graduates (Top 100) who get their diplomas first, starting at 10:55. They will go in order of merit (class standing). Jacob is 66th in his class so he should be the 66th Midshipman announced.

Above is a screenshot of the Graduation layout

“DG” stands for Distinguished Grads. Jacob will be in this group, most likely in the second row stage left.

The numbers represent the individual companies (there are 30 companies). Most Mids will get their diplomas with their company. Jacob is in 30th company so instead of being one of the last to get called, he will be one of the first.

Also, most Midshipman will shake the hand of one person as they get their diploma. However, distinguished graduates get to shake the hands of all dignitaries on the stage as they receive their diplomas.

Some Praises and Prayer Requests

    • We made it here safely and are enjoying our time in Annapolis.
    • Joshua got approval to leave West Point this week to join us in Annapolis to see Jacob graduate. He arrived in Annapolis Wednesday mid-day. He will need to report to West Point very early Saturday morning for graduation.
    • We were able to ship out 3 very large boxes of Jacob’s personal items back to our home in Mission Viejo. Cost a small fortune but it’s definitely a weight off the shoulders as we navigate this weekend. 
    • About 75% of the Mids who are graduating (Jacob included) still don’t have their orders. This complicates things with shipping of items and so forth. Jacob is trusting that he will be able to get reimbursed for shipping his stuff home. Pray that ALL Mids would get their orders via email before graduation.
    • Pray for us to enjoy all of the festivities this weekend. Pray for flexibility and patience. We have a tight window to get to West Point and a very busy schedule.
    • My Uncle and Aunt are attending the West Point ceremony with us. We will need to coordinate meeting up before-hand. Pray for everything to work out logistically.
    • Did I mention praying for patience and flexible attitudes?

The West Point-French Connection!

Jen and I visited Paris for a few days in 2018 to celebrate our 25th anniversary.
Photo by Dave Lowe

I don’t speak French.

And though I’ve been to France once, I don’t really know anyone who lives there.

So imagine my surprise when I was tagged in an Instagram post last week by someone I’ve never met who lives in France.

A couple of months ago, I started an account on Unsplash. If you’re not familiar with Unsplash, it’s a site that allows photographers to post their photos for the purpose of making them freely available for anyone to use.

It’s a popular site for bloggers because everyone who blogs is always looking for photos that fit their latest posts. I’ve been using Unsplash for a number of years and I decided to make some of my own photos available for others to download and freely use.

Among the photos I posted were a number of shots I took 2 summers ago when our boys were attending a week-long leadership experience at West Point.

One of the most scenic views of historic West Point is a view of the Hudson River from Trophy Point.
Photo by Dave Lowe

At West Point, there is an area known as Trophy Point with absolutely stunning views overlooking the Hudson River. Situated among the trees and paths of Trophy Point are a number of concrete benches for people to relax, converse, or just take in the scenery.

I noticed that on the sides of all of these benches are stamped words that reflect certain character virtues. Words like “Responsibility”, “Trust”, “Discipline” and “Compassion”.

I didn’t think much of it but it turns out that these photos are among the most viewed and downloaded of the 60 photos I’ve uploaded to Unsplash so far.

Last week, an Instagram user from France, who goes by the name tagged me to alert me that they had downloaded one of my photos to use on their blog.

The Instagram user used my “Compassion” photo from West Point to introduce their poem titled “Compassion”
Original photo by Dave Lowe
Image edited by S.Ch.

It was a nice gesture because Unsplash does not require that users alert photographers when their photos are downloaded. Nor is it required to credit the photographer when their photo is being used (though I always try to credit artists when I use their photos in my own posts).

The blogger who tagged me wanted to use my “Compassion” photo because they had written a poem, entitled “Compassion” and they thought my photo would fit well with their post.

The poem is a beautiful reflection on the concept of Compassion. You can read the entire poem (in French, Spanish or English) at the following link:

It’s interesting how connected the world is these days and I find it humbling to know the Lord is somehow using a photo I took at West Point to connect with people half-way around the world!

A Few God Moments at Cru19

Moby Gym at Colorado State University

In many ways, this year’s Cru staff conference was similar to previous ones. We met at Colorado State University. There were lots of people. There were lots of meetings with some great and inspiring speakers. We saw old friends and made a few new friends.

However, the things I remember most about our time at Cru19 are the ways in which God seemed to meet us right where we’re at, in our present life situation.

Bob Beaton (left), 1959 Graduate of the US Naval Academy, has worked with Midshipman at his alma mater for nearly 20 years!

Early in the conference Jen and I received a text from a person Jen works with in her side role of National Leadership Development. He wanted to connect us with a man he knew named Bob Beaton who is on staff with Cru at the Naval Academy. I texted Bob and we arranged to meet. It turns out, Bob is a 1959 graduate of the Naval Academy and after a long military career, joined Cru’s staff in 1994. In 2000, Bob started the Cru ministry at the Naval Academy and while he stepped down from leading the movement a few years ago, Bob is still active in ministering to Midshipmen (aka “Mids”) at the Yard (the US Naval Academy Campus).

Not long after that, Jen and I bumped into one of our former UC Davis students in the lobby of our hotel (one of the fun things about these conferences is running into people you haven’t connected with in a while). Her husband mentioned that they personally know the Cru Director at the Naval Academy and they introduced us to Kyle via text. Kyle and I were able to meet a few days later during an afternoon break.

After sharing introductions, I asked Kyle if he knew anything about our family. He said he only knew that we had a son who was entering the Naval Academy. I began to share a bit more, including the fact that Jacob has a twin brother, Joshua, who is at West Point.

Kyle Sponaugle (right) has been the director of the Cru ministry at the Naval Academy since 2008.

At that point, Kyle interrupted me and quickly pulled out his phone where he pulled up a photo and said, “I think I’ve already met your son.” The photo showed about 15 Plebes (that is what they call 1st year students) who were at the first Cru Bible study just a few weeks prior. Jacob was front and center in that photo. Kyle then went on to share that Jacob had talked with him after the group time and asked for prayer for his twin brother who is at West Point. Jacob never shared that his parents are on staff with Cru and that he is a staff kid.

It was amazing to find out that Jacob has already been pursuing a spiritual community on his own and we were able to connect with the leaders of that community at our national conference.

Jacob (Front Row, 4th from the right) at the Cru Navy Bible Study

A few days into the conference, we were scheduled to get phone calls from both Jacob and Joshua, ON THE SAME DAY! There are limited opportunities to talk to our boys during the summer training so we were pretty excited to hear from them. The problem was we had no idea the exact time they would call….we only had a Cable TV-like window of 5 hours where we knew a phone call would likely take place.

Joshua was all smiles on his FaceTime call to us during Cru19.

As it turned out, Jacob and Joshua both ended up calling us AT THE SAME TIME! It was a bit of a panic but we ended up getting them on our different phones where they were able to talk to each other via speaker phone. I think it was just what they both needed since the biggest challenge for them is that they are away from each other for the first time in their lives.

In the end, God provided inspiring and visionary speakers, just as we expected. He also refreshed us by connecting us to friends and colleagues we had not seen in a while. But the bonus was providing those moments that calmed our hearts as parents, allowing us a glimpse into what He’s doing in the lives of our sons who are no longer with us. Thank you for your continued prayers. They mean the world to us!